Last year, the menu, La Naturaleza, was groundbreaking. The 17-courses were pleasantly poetic, moving seamlessly through the evolution of Peru’s culinary history, from the raw beginnings to the sophisticated present. It proved the restaurant’s World’s Best ranking, which moved up to #14 this year, was well deserved and that this is a restaurant to watch, especially when it moves into its new complex at the Casa Moreyra in San Isidro later this year. The coming menu, launched June 20th, is narrower in scope (obviously, you can’t expand on the entire breadth of Peruvian history), focusing on Italian immigration to Peru, specifically those that came from Liguria.
Acurio’s storytelling prowess is clearly at the top of its game, as the dishes take you from the port of Genoa to the port of Callao, where a new culture was born. It’s more than just a presentation of superbly executed dishes, but a chronicle heightened by senses.
The Introduction of Astrid & Gastón’s El Viaje Menu:
“El Viaje” is the title of the new Winter 2013 Tasting Menu by. It is a story told through a long sequence of courses divided into five acts, a mise en scène where we attempt to take the life experiences of a restaurant beyond its traditional gastronomic limits. It is the kitchen turned into a new experience, in dialogue with art, music, literature, design and fashion, an intervention in space and time that tries, with every bite, to stir the senses, reflections, memories, and feelings.
El Viaje tells the story of two remote villages inexorably brought together by fate. It is the story of tens of thousands of men and women, children of Liguria, who for various reasons chose to emigrate to Peru and from there initiated a brotherly embrace of cultural integration that gradually gave life to a new world of Italian memories and Peruvian soul.
During each of the five acts, the dishes, the music, the clothing, the decoration, the tableware and the book that accompanies this experience, will narrate the turning points that define this life journey: the departure, that moment when the mother cries and says goodbye to her son encouraging him to triumph and return; the voyage, when the young man, full of fears and dreams, begins to imagine the land of Peru; the arrival, represented by long decades of work, thrift, and learning; the triumph, the moment when all the efforts pay off but also bring to life a new feeling; and finally, the return, the end of a journey that takes him back home laden with gifts from his new land.
El Viaje. A story of flavors, daring, and brotherhood.”
The Forward by Massimo Bottura:
“Many have in mind the image of the Italian immigrant with the iconic cardboard suitcase, piled in Kafkaesque rows at Ellis Island. The early years of the twentieth century have left us this mythical image, thanks to the charm of the first photographs. But the Italians have always been a people of poets, saints and sailors, people traveling with their hopes in their pockets. Poets, saints and sailors: sensitivity, faith and curiosity. During the course of the nineteenth century, Liguria had just lost its independence as the Republic of Genoa, which lasted for almost a thousand years, to be annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
The myth of the American continent had created hopes and expectations that, in a time of hardship and instability, led many men and women to leave their native shores bound for South America. It is curious to think, too, how similar are the landscapes of Peru and Liguria, with their mountains licking the sea. Imagine luggage consisting of the customs and traditions of an entire city, Chiavari, unloaded just like packaged goods at the port of Callao. Mothers in the dock in Genoa bidding farewell with a hug, with all the aromas of home, which their sons will spend a lifetime trying to replicate and remember after arriving in Callao. Imagine that port in 1840: people from all over the world, an unknown climate and a babel of languages, but still one finds his city. All of it. Here are the baker’s son, the brother of Mario the anchovies salter, the seamstress’ cousin…The peace of landing in a copy of one’s place of origin.
And so, sharing common roots preserves a community that is slowly mixing with the local population and the other immigrants. The culture is being transformed without losing the value of the memory of that mother in the port of Genoa, but at the same time, it is extending its arms and feelings to welcome the new and the discovery of the new home. Being transformed without losing memory: the memories remain and will be eternal. There are no tears salting my cheeks, just the splashing of the sea foam…Or the sweat of the brow. For in the New World you work, you follow your dreams, you multiply your family. And our home cooking also evolves with new ingredients and mixed aromas. We sail far but never lose sight of the shore. We will never go back, but we will not forget our home, because that is where our roots are, in that dock, in our mothers’ face.”
Here’s the Video:
Astrid & Gastón
Calle Cantuarias 175, Miraflores
*For online reservations of the El Viaje menu, be sure to select Tasting Menu in the options.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.